Norine Dworkin-McDaniel told the story of her abortion by pill in Marie Claire. She was pro-choice and thought she would have no problems.
She supported the use of the abortion pill and thought it was a good thing
“From the moment it was approved in 2000, I believed in the abortion pill. Finally! Abortion would finally become what it always should have been: a private medical matter between a woman and her doctor. It held the promise of swift, at home termination. There would be no more gauntlets of protesters at clinics, because who would know which physicians were dispensing the pills? Even better, the pill would keep abortion accessible at a time when fewer gynecologists were willing to perform them out of fear of attacks.”
Dworkin – McDaniel eventually was faced an unplanned pregnancy. According to her, when she became pregnant, she was using cocaine and would “work all day, and party, party, party all night.”
She worried that her drug use would cause medical problems for the baby:
“No matter what I did from this point on, there would always be a chance that the baby would have problems – maybe physical ones, maybe psychological issues. I wasn’t willing to roll the dice with another life.”
“There was the surgical option of course. I’d had one in college (so you think I would’ve learned this lesson already) and I dreaded the needle that would be used to numb my cervix.”
“The Mifeprex literature described some cramping and bleeding, “similar to or greater than a normal, heavy period.” This sounded far more appealing than surgical abortion. A few pills, a couple of cramps, and it would all be over. We could move on with our lives.”
“Clinic staffers had directed me to insert the tablets into my vagina in the morning so I’d have the day to recover. I envisioned recuperating on the couch with some uncomfortable but bearable cramps and soothing myself with s bad daytime TV.”…
I never made it to the couch.
“Nothing – not the drug literature, the clinic doctor, not even my own gyno – had prepared me for the searing, gripping, squeezing pain that ripped through my belly 30 minutes later. I couldn’t even form words when Stewart [her boyfriend] called to check on me. It was all I could do to gasp, “Come home! Now!” For 90 minutes, I was disoriented, nauseated, and, between crushing waves of contractions, that I imagine were close to what labor feels like, racing from the bed to the bathroom with diarrhea.”
Then, just as quickly, it was over. The next night, I started bleeding. I bled for 14 days. A follow-up ultrasound confirmed that I’d aborted. And that’s when the problems really began.
I had been prepared for the possibility that the pill wouldn’t work and I’d still need a surgical abortion – that happens in about 5 to 8 percent of cases. I also knew that I might bleed so heavily I need surgery to stop it… [But] what blindsided me, apart from being battered by the mifepristone, with a huge, cystic boils that soon covered my neck, shoulders, and back. I was also overcome by fatigue – an utter lack of ability to do anything more strenuous than sleep or lie on the couch. My brain felt so fuzzy – English seemed like a 2nd language, and I couldn’t work. On top of all that came depression; I sobbed constantly. I wouldn’t leave the house. I stopped showering.
It was only when I described my symptoms to my gynecologist that I discovered my experience wasn’t all that unusual. (The Mifeprex literature didn’t even mention it) “I think it’s underreported, but probably one in 3 women have dramatic side effects,” he told me. My body was in total chaos – pregnancy hormones clashing with anti-pregnancy hormones clashing with stress hormones. “I’ve seen a lot of women go through it – I don’t want to call it postpartum, but post event melancholy that’s more dramatic than people want to admit.” He prescribed antidepressants. “One day, you’ll feel just like your old self.” It took 9 months.”
Dworkin – McDaniel describes going back to the clinic and talking to one of the clinic workers:
“We could have told you it wasn’t going to be easy,” a clinic staffer noted when I rattled off my complaints during my follow-up.
Why didn’t she speak up sooner?”
Norine Dworkin-McDaniel “BETRAYED BY A PILL” Marie Claire (US), Jul2007, Vol. 14 7, p184-186
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